Oberlin College has entered into a power purchasing agreement with Spear Point Energy to purchase electricity from a 2.27-MW solar array to be constructed on college property. It will be the largest PV array on any college or university campus in Ohio. Construction will begin in early May and is expected to be completed by the end of August.
The array will consist of 7,722 polycrystalline PV panels bolted to a ground-mounted tracking system and will cover about 10 acres of agricultural land. It will generate approximately 3 million kWh of electricity per year, enough to power 400 to 450 homes and equal to 12 percent of the college’s annual consumption. The purchase of electricity from this system will move the college significantly closer toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.
“This project is a highly visible example of the college’s commitment to sustainability, and to procuring a significant portion of its electricity from renewable sources,” says Rob Lamppa, Oberlin’s director of sustainability and energy management.
The new array will also provide additional research opportunities for students and faculty in multiple disciplines. PV arrays currently in operation on campus include a 59-kW system on the roof of the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies and the 101- kW parking pavilion array adjacent to the AJLC.
“Faculty and students will have the ability to compare the similarities and differences between the fixed PV system on the roof of the Adam Joseph Lewis Center and parking pavilion, and the new, ground-mounted, solar tracking PV system,” says Lamppa.
SPG Solar, which has installed more than 70 MWof solar photovoltaic power systems nationwide, designed and will build the solar array. The installation will include a solar tracking system that will result in 3.08 million kWh of electricity produced per year.
“Oberlin College has always been a leader in social change and once again is ahead of the pack leading through an on-campus, ground mount solar power system that will provide the equivalent of up to 12 percent of the campus electricity consumption,” said Michael Johnson, VP Structured Finance at SPG Solar. “We designed the system with our single axis solar tracking system so that Oberlin College can capture even more solar power and savings. Once completed, it will be one of the largest solar tracking projects on a college campus in the U.S.”
A U.S.-based company with offices in Colorado, California, and Utah, Spear Point Energy is committed to the goal of localized electricity production through solar projects that realize economic benefit for the clients, consumers, partners, and investors.
“We are pleased to offer such a venerable institution as Oberlin College a Power Purchase Agreement to provide clean, economical, locally produced electricity,” said Sam Houston, CEO of Spear Point Energy. ”The commitment shown by Oberlin College to meet its renewable energy goals is forward thinking and rewarding for all.”
Oberlin was one of the nation’s first institutions of higher education to accept the goal of carbon neutrality as a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2006. In 2010, the Oberlin community—college and city—joined the Climate Positive Development Program, a joint initiative of the Clinton Climate Initiative, a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation, and the U.S. Green Building Council.